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FMCSA CDL Downgrades Start in November

Updated: May 10

FMCSA CDL Downgrades
FMCSA CDL Downgrades

With the FMCSA CDL Downgrades starting in November, thousands of drivers risk being revoked.

Truck drivers with a “prohibited” status in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse face a pressing deadline. They have just a few months to act before state licensing agencies remove their commercial driving privileges in November, which demands immediate attention.

According to the latest FMCSA report, 163,318 CDL and CLP holders are listed in “prohibited” status in the agency’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. This online database tracks violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program.

The consequences of inaction are severe. If these drivers do not begin the Return-To-Duty process soon, they could face serious license problems later this year, significantly impacting their livelihood.

Starting November 18, 2024, the FMCSA will require State Driver’s Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) to revoke commercial driving privileges from individuals with a “prohibited” status in the agency’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. The agency says this would result in a downgrade of the license until the driver completes the return-to-duty (RTD) process.

The November 18, 2024, deadline was established by a second Final Rule (Clearinghouse-II) issued by the FMCSA in October 2021 that tightens requirements on SDLAs about the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. This rule builds on and strengthens current federal rules prohibiting drivers from operating with a “prohibited” Clearinghouse status.

“As established in the first Clearinghouse Final Rule, drivers with a “prohibited” Clearinghouse status are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads. The second Clearinghouse final rule (Clearinghouse-II) further supports this by ensuring that drivers with a “prohibited” Clearinghouse status do not continue to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP),” the FMCSA says.

The FMCSA’s first Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule on January 6, 2020, is crucial in licensing. It requires motor carriers to query the online database before hiring a driver and once per year for existing drivers.

The rule is designed to provide employers and law enforcement with real-time access to a driver’s drug and alcohol violation records, ensuring transparency and safety in the industry.

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